Remembering John H. Johnson, 1918-2005

Citation metadata

Author: June O. Patton
Date: Fall 2005
From: The Journal of African American History(Vol. 90, Issue 4)
Publisher: Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc.
Document Type: Obituary
Length: 860 words

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :

John Harold Johnson, the founder and Chairman of Johnson Publishing Company, died at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Monday, 8 August 2005. With Johnson's passing the national African American community lost a major advocate for civil and human rights, and the Association for African American Life and History (ASALH) lost a staunch supporter. Born into poverty in Arkansas City, Arkansas, on 19 January 1918, he was the son of Leroy and Gertrude Jenkins Johnson. In 1926 his life was further impoverished following the death of his father, however, his mother, who believed passionately in education, saw to it that her son attended school. Johnson received his early education in Arkansas City public schools, but because the system provided no public high school for African Americans, his mother moved the family to Chicago in 1933.

Despite the hardships imposed by the Great Depression, in 1936 John H. Johnson graduated from DuSable High School with honors, received a partial scholarship to the University of Chicago, and secured a job at the Supreme Life Insurance Company. In 1939 he became the editor of the Supreme Life's in-house magazine and by 1941 held a full-time position with the company. Using his mother's furniture as collateral for a $500 loan, and $6,000 raised from charter subscriptions, Johnson obtained office space...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A143225041